March 21st, 2015

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I did my second recording session at the age of 16. One day my friend Durwood Hutto who played rhythm guitar and sang rockabilly and I decided to make a demo of a song we had written called “Crazy Little Satellite”. We wrote the song after the Russian Sputnik satellite was launched into orbit. I was playing lead guitar and singing too. We decided to go to Fortune Records and record a demo. Fortune Records was an American family operated, independent record label located in Detroit, Michigan from 1946 to 1995. The label owners were Jack and Devora Brown. Original releases tapered off after 1972 aside from a few albums in the mid-1980s. Fortune specialized in R&B, blues, soul and doo-wop music, although the label also released pop, big band, hillbilly, gospel, rock and roll, and polka records. Fortune released some doo-wop tunes by Nolan Strong & The Diablos, such as “The Wind” and “The Way You Dog Me Around”, and “Mind Over Matter”. Other notable artists on Fortune included John Lee Hooker, Andre Williams, and Nathaniel Mayer & The Fabulous Twilights. I played on sessions with Andre Williams back in the day and also played on one of his latest CDs called “Hoods and Shades”. Below I have added videos of “The Wind” by Nolan Strong and the Diablos followed by me playing with Andre Williams a few years ago. I had also recorded with Andre back in the early sixties.

Band Rehearsal

Durwood Hutto, Larry Blockno, and Dennis Coffey

The owners of Fortune Records

Devora and Jack Brown

Fortune Recording studio

Fortune Records building

Devora and Jack Brown recorded a demo of us singing and playing guitars. We paid them for the session and received copies of the demo. A few days later we got a call from Devora. She had played that demo for producer Nat Tarnopol. He played a vital role in producing and shaping R&B music throughout the 1960s and 1970s. As the president of Brunswick Records, a subsidiary label of Decca Records he was responsible for launching the careers of The Chi-Lites, Jackie Wilson, Tyrone Davis, Barbara Acklin and The Young-Holt Unlimited, Tarnopol scored 150 songs on the Billboard charted singles between 1957 and 1981.
Nat called and told us we had a rehearsal with a band at Berry Gordy’s house in Detroit. This was before Motown and Berry was the arranger. We rehearsed with a piano player, guitar player and drummer. The next day we went to United Sound Studios and recorded the record. It was very exciting for us. We waited about a year and nothing happened with our record. We went to Nat’s office on Woodward Avenue in Detroit and persuaded him to give us our contract back and that was the end of it.

Record Producer Nat Tarnopol

Nat Tarnopol

Singer Andre Williams

Andre Williams

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Dennis Coffey